Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Date Night to plan and a giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is commenter No. 3 , Springbird. The winner has been contacted.Thanks to everybody who participated !
It would be fair to say that since the birth of my son about 4 years ago,
TH and I have had very few opportunities to have some alone time. 
Add to the fact that we come from a culture where dating was traditionally not prevalent and that we do not have family here to babysit our child - that makes planning for a date night even more difficult.But both of us agree that it is imperative to be able to spend time together, without any distractions, such as TV or attention hogging kids (no matter how well behaved your kids are , if they are 4 years old,they will definitely want to be the center of attention ! ) So to that end, we have been making efforts to free up time such that we can at least sit together and spend time,either watching a movie together or discussing favorite topics or even planning for the immediate future. We either let P watch his favorite show for 30 minutes, or made sure that he was engaged in an activity that would keep him engrossed for at least half an hour. We still couldn't go out together, since we both work and we haven't really found any babysitter that I would want to leave my child with.

When MyBlogSpark sent me a kit that would make Date Night In easier , I was excited..I made simple plans to send P to bed earlier and cook a meal using the Wanchai Ferry and Macaroni Grill kits that came with the prize pack. I was going to use the 30$ visa card that came with the kit to purchase some nice place mats and candles to make a romantic table setting. (So what if we couldn't go out by ourselves to a nice restaurant..) The dinner kits looked easy to prepare ...the instructions are easy to follow and you need to add just a few everyday ingredients to make a complete meal for two. Although the kits are intended to be made with meat, it would be easy to substitute vegetarian/vegan options like tofu or seitan or tempeh.

Well, all planning aside, hectic work schedules, pregnancy and an active preschooler made it difficult to bring this about.But I haven't given up my attempts to make this happen.We have found a babysitter with whom we are all comfortable. Its now a matter of carving out the time so that I can cook and set the table and have a nice relaxed meal with TH !
I will update this post once I do get to have that date night !!

MyBlogSpark ,Wanchai Ferry and Macaroni Grill want to give one of my readers a prize pack of their own, containing two dry dinner kits and a $25 visa card. All you need to do to enter is leave me a comment saying how you would plan for a date night with your significant other.
The giveaway ends on 01/07/2011 at 11.59 pm.  I will use a random generator to pick the winner.
Please note that the giveaway is open to US residents only.
Also, do enter your email address when you leave a comment. Otherwise I am left with no way to contact you in case you win !

(Disclaimer: The products, prize pack and the information was given to me from Wanchai Ferry and Macaroni Grill through MyBlogSpark.The opinions and post content are all my own ! )

Monday, December 06, 2010

Leisurely Sunday Mornings and My First Giveaway!

                  This giveaway is now closed ! The winner is Janie ! Congratulations Janie !! 
Please leave a comment with your contact details (email address and mailing address so that I can have your prize pack mailed to you ...Your details will not be published on the blog )

Growing up, in India, Sunday mornings were special.
Not in an spectacular kind of way, just in a kind of quiet, relaxing with your family kind of a way..
With no school to worry about, my brother and I had the entire day to do as we wished..
We didnt have a host of TV channels to choose from ..it was just one National channel and then too we had very select TV programmes that were actually interesting !
After breakfast, we would curl up on the living room couch, watch TV and then run off to play, read or whatever caught our fancy that day. Speaking of breakfasts, Sunday morning breakfasts would be quite elaborate. They would usually be savoury,  like lentil crepes (dosas) with a spicy potato mixture and a coconut chutney, or soft rice and lentil cakes served with chutney and a spicy lentil stew.
Sweet items would be reserved for special occasions only.
We would look forward to Sunday morning breakfasts, the whole family sitting around the breakfast table ,
talking and chatting about what each of us wanted to do for the rest of the day.
Now, almost 15 years later, I try to follow a similar pattern here in the US, with my own family.
Admittedly, it doesnt work out that way every single Sunday, what with weekends sometimes being even more hectic than weekdays..Some weekends, breakfast fare tends to be traditional and at other times, we enjoy pancakes and cereal and sandwiches !

Recently, I got the opportunity to try some Pillsbury sweet rolls courtesy Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark.

They also sent me scrapbooking supplies that I am pretty excited about !!
It will be a fun activity to do with my 4 year old on cold winter mornings  :)

Enjoying the rolls is as easy as opening the can, seperating the pieces and then baking according to instructions.The icing is also included in the can.
Now, if you are the bake from scratch type of a person, then you would probably scoff at anything that comes from a can. But if you dont mind giving into the convenience of baking out of a can and you enjoy sweet treats, then you can indulge in this once in a while.

Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark would like to give my readers the opportunity to try out the Pillsbury sweet rolls.
To win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you like to make Sunday mornings special for your family !
I will use a random generator to pick out the winning comment amongst the ones left till Dec 13th, 12pm CST Happy Sundays !!

P.S. I was not compensated by either Pillsbury or MyBlogSpark for this post. The opinions are entirely mine.
I did receive a pack containing a free coupon for Pillsbury rolls and scrapbooking supplies.
Click on the link below to save $0.70 on one can of Pillsbury Flaky Cinnamon Rolls with Butter Cream Icing today!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Love, Laughter and Friendship

Knowing that I am loved...
Knowing that I have enough love to share with all the precious people in my life....
Reveling in the laughter that gives a glow to even the most mundane things around me ...
Cherishing the beautiful friendships that I am lucky enough to have ....

These are the things that I am thinking about this Thanksgiving day !!

I am off to spend this holiday with friends and family....
I will leave you with this Cranberry -Ginger Spiced Cider to mull over what you are thankful for this year..

Recipe adapted from Vocalpoint.com

Cranberry - Ginger Spiced Cider (Serves 2)

Ingredients :
2 C Apple Cider
1/4 C fresh cranberries
1 Tbs fresh ginger (minced)1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1/2 tsp coriander seeds

Combine all the ingredients in a pan and set to boil over medium heat.
Once the cranberries start to pop, lower the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Strain the whole mixture and pour into glasses of your choice.

Enjoy !

I loved the tartness of the cranberries, the earthiness of the ginger and the warmth infused from the spices..
Perfect on a cold chilly day to enjoy with loved ones.
Use apple juice if cider is not available..

                                             Happy Thanksgiving !!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Govinda Ala Re !

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण
कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे

(image courtesy of www.krishnajanmashtami.com )

A joyous Krishnashtami to all !

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cures in the Kitchen - Ginger

You have a headache - you take a pill
You have a nasty cold - you take a pill
You have a skin rash - you take medicine
You have a hiccup - you take a pill...maybe not yet ..but I wouldnt be surprised if there is a cure available for that in the pharmacy ! The point being, I think the more advanced and technologically savvy our generation gets, the more paranoid we become.
At least, with respect to illnesses and diseases. I am not negating the effectiveness of modern medicines and the wonderful cures that are now possible due to advances in science and technology. Such medicines were not heard of 20 - 30 years ago and have made a world of difference in the quality of life of the people who have access to these medicines.
What I see as a problem is the fact that more often than not, we tend to seek out medicines to quell the symptoms rather than getting at the root of the illness and trying to find a solution for that.
We all know that the human body is a wonderful , self-correcting , self healing entity ;if only we give it a chance to do its job. I do not have a medical background and I am not an expert on any alternative healing techniques, but I know for a fact that a dose of healthy food and an active lifestyle does wonders for the human body. Most of modern day illnesses are a result of gross over-indulgence and over processing of food. Food is extremely nurturing;we only have to make it work for us.
We need not even look far, the humble kitchen pantry has a host of silent soldiers which are quite effective at combating mild discomforts and illnesses.

The Cures in The Kitchen series is my attempt at maintaining a list of common ingredients found in the kitchen that can be used as a first line of defense against illnesses.

Today's Star is Ginger - (botanical name Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a ubiquitous ingredient in several Asian cuisines. It has a very distinct pungent flavour.
Young ginger is relatively mild. When ginger fully matures, it starts getting dry and fibrous. It is advisable to avoid dry ginger. Ginger is very widely used in the Indian sub-continent and
it shouldnt be surprising to find out that India is the largest producer of Ginger, followed by China.
Fresh ginger is usually peeled and then used to flavour vegetable, curry and even rice preparations. There are a myriad of medicinal uses of Ginger, not only as prescribed in Ayurveda, but also internationally.
Here are but a few of them :

  • Ginger tea made with fresh ginger, black pepper and lemon has been long used to soothe common colds and sore throats.
  • Ginger preparations are used against diarrhea.
  • Ginger is also very effective in treating nausea and morning sickness. Ginger tea or crystallized ginger can be consumed to combat nausea.
  • Ginger is also used in the treatment of inflammation.
  • A paste of ginger, when applied to the forehead is said to relieve headaches.
  • Fresh Ginger juice when mixed with honey and tulsi (holy basil) is often used for coughs and sore throats. (Since honey is not to be administered to infants, this applies to older children and adults.)
  • Ginger has also been touted as having digestive properties. Fresh ginger included in meals aids in digestion.
  • Ginger increases the warmth in the body and increases perspiration, thus helping in reducing fevers.
  • Regular consumption of ginger helps is stimulating proper blood circulation and helps in flushing out the toxins from the blood stream.

Possible side-effects:
Although general and moderate use of ginger doesnt cause any side effects in healthy people,
excessive doses can cause heartburn and irritation of the mouth.
Its also recommended that people with gall stones should not consume ginger.

Availablility :
Young fresh ginger is available at local Asian stores.
Fresh mature ginger can be found at health food stores and in the produce section of grocery stores.
Dried ginger or ginger powder is available in Asian stores and at health food stores.
Ginger in capsule form is also available at local health food stores.

Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator's salad drawer.
Powdered ginger should be stored in an airtight container. The taste of powdered ginger is quite different to that of fresh ginger.
Medicinal usages almost always employ fresh ginger.

Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric, cardomom and galangal(Used in Thai cuisines)

Personal Notes:
I have personally used ginger tea very effectively in reducing the effects of a common cold and sore throat.
I have also used it to combat nausea.
I frequently administer ginger juice and honey to my son, a preschooler , when he seems to be developing a cough.
I sometimes add the juice of tulsi leaves (holy basil plant).
I almost always add chopped fresh ginger while cooking.

Recipes :
Add a small sliver of ginger to your tea cup to awaken your sleepy senses in the morning.
Add fresh grated ginger to a cup of fresh fruits and see what a difference that makes to an ordinary fruit plate.
I will be adding more recipes that use ginger as the star ingredient.

As an end note, I would like to say that we should use our common sense while making a decision about our health and that of our family. Moderation is the key for everything !
if you or anybody in your family is really sick or if you dont know the cause of the illness, then go to a doctor with haste follow his recommendations regarding treatment of the condition,
but give the hidden medicines in your kitchen a chance first. You might just be surprised !

Do share how you use this wonder in the kitchen as a medicinal tool !

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. What I have noted above is some information that I got on the internet, some information received from my mother and grandmother and some shared personal experiences about using a herb.
This post is not intended as a replacement for traditional medicines.
Proper guidance of a healthcare professional must always be sought before trying out anything new.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Wonderland !

" Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland. "

We woke up today to a magical world outside !
Lawns, vehicles and houses were covered with a thick layer of snow, there was a considerable chill in the air
and streets had a deserted look.
Snow in Dallas is generally a-once-a-year event.
Snow several times a year with extreme cold temperatures is quite rare.

As I drove to work, I took in the sights and realized that the snow had transformed my ordinary
world into something quite mystical and pristine.
Bare trees were adorned with loads of snow and had an other wordly feeling to them.
The rooftops of houses were blanketed lightly with snow, giving them a look of cozy comfort.
People you met urged you to drive carefully and to stay warm.

As is often the case, we generally tend to focus on the negative aspects - the outcome of being able to think, I guess -
about possible accidents , about the inconvenience , about delays , about horrible traffic.
But we should try and suspend that predisposition to dwell on disaster. Its too beautiful out there to ignore !
So enjoy what nature has graciously bestowed on you ( I would probably be singing a different tune had I been
residing in any of the northern states ;-) ).
Dress warmly and go build a snowman , have snow fights with your children.
Snuggle under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate or a delicous bowl of soup.
Listen to romantic melodies or watch a movie :)

Enjoy this day because tomorrow will bring other moments and today will be gone in the blink of an eye.

Keep warm and savour what the day brings !